The Uganda government’s aim to sharply raise coffee revenue looks increasingly more achievable as annual production jumps by more than one million bags.
However, as pointed out at the 16th African Fine Coffee Conference in Kampala recently, a few bumps stand in the way of the multi-billion dollar dream. On paper, the government has an ambitious target of reaching 20 million (60kg each) bags per annum by 2020.
The nonprofit World Coffee Research has expanded its groundbreaking Arabica Coffee Varieties catalog, adding varieties from six African countries, an expanded introduction, and new findings in genetic and historical research.
Uganda has been tasked to improve its coffee quality if it wants to sell its product at a premium price on the global market.
Speakers at the just-concluded African Fine Coffee conference held at Serena hotel in Kampala observed that while Uganda was upping its coffee production levels, its Robusta and Arabica coffees received negative differentials at the world market because of poor quality.
This means it fetches less money than it would have if it was rated positively.
Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja said the country was determined to work on coffee quality. He said it is only then that the country can sell its coffee at a premium.
Despite significant coffee exports to the world market worth about 2 billion dollars a year, Uganda's coffee is still not visible on shelves.
Government and stakeholders in the coffee sub sector must prioritise investment in marketing the countrys coffee if the country is to rip any tangible benefits from the crop.
Uganda has been asked to export more of its coffee mainly Robusta to China as demand piles. Robusta is Uganda’s leading coffee species making almost 85 per cent of the export volumes.
About 10 years ago when Uganda opened up its coffee doors to China it faced challenges because the World’s largest populous country was into tea drinking culture.